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Appreciation Towards Sega's Old Racers

An online writer who is also an avid geek to automotive, video games, and anime. Have a soft spot for racing games


The venture of Sega in racing games started in 1968 with the release of Drivemobile. The game features dedicated steering wheel and accelerator, a standard for arcade racing game cabinets nowadays. Following years saw the release of iconic racing games such as Hang-On and Monaco GP.

The 90s were the golden days of Sega racers, starting with the release of Virtua Racing. A part of Sega's Virtua line, the game starts the company attempt in 3D racing games and introduced V.R. view system (four driving camera modes) which was a standard for upcoming Sega games. The game was a huge commercial success, with the arcade version being one of the highest-grossing arcade games in Japan in 1992.

The culmination point, however, was the 1994 racing game Daytona USA. Came with improved 3D graphics, Daytona USA brought the arcade racing genre into the next level.

The game was praised for emphasizing realism, such as the inclusion of pitstop which was way ahead of simulators like Gran Turismo. On the other hand, the drifting mechanics is enough for Daytona USA to have the upper hand against other arcade racers such as Namco’s Ridge Racer.


The success of Daytona USA guaranteed the following sequels. Scud Race is a sequel that retains Daytona USA’s fun elements and signature drifting mechanics but with a twist: instead of the original Hornet, the game has four licensed race cars which were competing in the BPR Global GT Series.

The true sequel, Daytona USA 2, came in 1998. It has the ability to choose one of 3 cars (4 in the expansion pack Power Edition) corresponding to the difficulty, a feature that make first appearance in the series on console-exclusive Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition.

Compared to the first installment, the game cranked the realism aspect up to eleven. The damage system is way more realistic. It also has full-course caution, not unlike actual stock car racing. The quirk, however, is the spectator mode (accessed via the second cabinet) which simulates live broadcast.


Another Sega entry is Sega Rally. Released in 1995, the series switches from track racing to rallying.

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New in this game is the ability to race and road dirt surface, reinforced by the game’s distinctive rally handling. A stage-based championship mode is also added to this game, bringing variety in game modes.


Of course, we can’t talk about Sega racing games without mentioning OutRun. OutRun emphasizes the joy of driving through various sceneries more than racing your opponents, a somewhat unique concept during that time.

OutRun grants players the ability to drive through different routes via track forks. Each route features different sceneries and difficulties that also determine different endings you can get.


Aside from racing games set in fictional settings, Sega also once made their own arcade interpretations of actual motorsport disciplines. Their take on the sports can be seen in games such as Manx TT Superbike, Le Mans 24, and F355 Challenge.

Manx TT Superbike and Le Mans 24 are fully-pledged arcade racers. While Manx TT enables racers to race in Isle of Man TT races, Le Mans 24 allows players to compete in the reimagining of Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race in Circuit de La Sarthe. F355 Challenge, on the other hand, is an attempt in bringing driving simulator experience to arcades, complete with the choice of driving aids.


Last but not least, Initial D Arcade Stage. Being based on the famous anime and manga franchise, it pioneered progress saving feature in arcade racers such as a card-based saving system and car customizations. Such feature would later be followed by Namco's Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune and Taito's Battle Gear.

The series translates the exhilarating actions featured in the anime and manga into playable format. In the series, players can drive against street racers featured in Initial D or other players. A console version even puts the player in the shoes of the main characters.

Sega’s experiments in making games have led to numerous racing games with their distinctive elements. When we talk about the history of racing games, we can’t ignore Sega. While the Japanese videogame company is known for fan-favorite franchises such as Sonic and Yakuza, Sega also plays huge role in the progress happening in the racing game industry.

© 2021 Muhammad Azka Prasetya

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